The story of Holi from Bhagavat Purana - Holika and Prahlad

Hiranyakashipu, on the lap, being killed by Narasimha

Prahlad is mentioned in Gurbani. For instance there is a reference to Prahlaad in Ab Rakho Daas Bhaat Ki Laaj. There is also a reference to Prahlaad (along with Dhruv) in Bhagat Kabir's shabad, Deen Dayaal Bharose Tere

The story of Prahlad is about Holi, a festival celebrated in northern India. When I was a little boy in Delhi, I played Holi. It happens in March, welcoming spring. Holi is colorful and fun, with dancing, singing, and throwing colorful powders and water. It's linked to a story from the Bhagavat Purana about Holika and Prahlad.

The Story of Holika and Prahlad

In the Bhagavat Purana, there was a king named Hiranyakashipu. He wanted to be immortal, like many demons. So, he did a lot of prayers and got a special gift from Brahma, the creator in Hindu beliefs. The gift made him think he was safe from death. He thought he couldn't be killed by any human or animal, inside or outside, during the day or night, with weapons or without, on land or in water or air.

Hiranyakashipu became very proud and made everyone worship him as a god. He hurt and killed anyone who didn't obey. But his son, Prahlad, didn't agree and kept worshipping Vishnu.

Hiranyakashipu got angrier and tried to kill Prahlad many times. Once, he asked his sister Holika for help. She had a magic cloak that protected her from fire. So, she sat in a fire with Prahlad on her lap, tricking him. But Holika didn't know her magic only worked when she was alone in the fire. Prahlad kept saying Vishnu's name, and he came out fine, blessed by Vishnu.

Vishnu turned into Narasimha, part human and part lion, during twilight (neither day nor night). He put Hiranyakashipu on a doorstep (not really inside or outside), on his lap (not land, water, or air), and used his lion claws (not a weapon) to kill him. The special powers Hiranyakashipu got from his gift didn't work anymore.

Good eventually won over evil, and Prahlad and the people were free from Hiranyakashipu's fear.